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Sons of the Desert

August 23, 2010

80. Sons of the Desert (Fraternally Yours)
Directed by William A. Seiter
USA, 1933
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing


Stan and Ollie are members of a Shriner-style secret society, The Sons of the Desert. They take a solemn oath to attend the fraternity’s annual convention, but their wives forbid them from going. In order to attend the convention, they spin a web of lies which lands them in a series of nice messes.

Favourite Gag:

Stan and Ollie are stuck on the roof of their own house in the midst of a storm. Their only route of escape is down the drainpipe. Stan shins down, landing feet-first in a barrel of water at the bottom. He tells Ollie to spread his legs on the way down, resulting in him landing arse-first in the barrel instead.

Oliver Hardy in Sons of the Desert

Ollie: Now why did you tell me to spread my legs?
Stan: Well I didn’t want you to get your feet wet.


Perhaps the comparison is unfair but Laurel and Hardy, like the Marx Brothers, wreak havoc at every turn. However, while the Marxes’ particular brand of chaos is mischievously deliberate, Stan and Ollie’s characters are infuriatingly clumsy and stupid. I found myself getting annoyed on behalf of their hapless victims, even though I know it takes great precision to perform such “accidents.”

Having not seen any of their other work yet, I can’t guess whether they caught me on a bad day or I just don’t “get” Laurel and Hardy. I’ll try some more to find out.


Reviewed by Rachel
First viewing

Essential Scene:

Mrs Laurel (Dorothy Christy) and Mrs Hardy (Mae Busch) go to the cinema to take their minds off the fact their husbands may have died at sea. Before the main feature begins, a couple of newsreels are shown, one of which shows the Sons of the Desert having a whale of a time at their convention.

You’ve guessed it, Stan and Ollie are mugging for the news camera, totally blowing their cover. A furious Mrs Hardy yells at the screen:

Just wait till you get home, you inflated tadpole!


Although Sons of the Desert lacks any of Laurel and Hardy’s famous setpieces, it’s probably one of their best feature length comedies. It may take a while to get going, but a few good laughs in the first half set you up for the quicker pace of the second. Watch out for silent comedian Charley Chase, who makes a guest appearance.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Lawrence permalink
    August 25, 2010 12:57 am

    Sons of the Desert is one of the best things humans have done. This goes for all Laurel & Hardy.

  2. September 1, 2010 2:24 pm

    I have since given Laurel & Hardy a second chance by watching Way Out West. L&H fans will be relieved to hear that I really liked it. “I think he died of a Tuesday…”

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